Chicago: Hard Cider in the City

20090615-cider-seedling.jpgLongtime Green City Market veteran fruit slinger Peter Klein, of Seedling Orchard in South Haven, Michigan, unveiled a hard cider a few weeks ago here in Chicago.

Like me, he's a huge fan of Normandy ciders and was inspired by the tipple to make his own. All apples for Klein's cider are hand-picked and pressed on a hydraulic press "soft" cider mill on his property. Seedling's hard cider is made from a mix that is heavy on tarter varieties and a fall blend of apples with good sugar content. He says, "Historically, I think we would like even more tart and tannic apples in the mix; but we don't grow these yet."

Klein adds, "If we have a good year, I would consider planting a cider-apple-specific orchard. Meanwhile, like we do with soft cider, I would love to look at varietals and seasonal flavors. I believe in France there are different terms for early-, middle-, and late-season ciders--and they taste and age differently."

The current bottling for summer runs at 100 cases, but there will be another big pressing in the fall so the cider is available year-round.

I really like it. It's a nice clean apple sparkler with a decent bit of sweetness. Like Klein, I'd like to see a touch more tartness in the final product. In the meantime, like a late-harvest Riesling, the sweetness makes this the perfect pairing for some India House take-out, a BYOB trip to Double Li or Lao Szechuan in Chinatown, or a dessert pairing with an apple tart.

Locally you can find it at the Wine Discount Center for $12.99 a bottle or at dinner at Crofton on Wells, Goose Island, Hot Chocolate, and Nacional 27.